Olivetti Studio 42 | “macchina per scrivere”

Vintage typewriters have long fascinated me – both for their elegance and mechanical ingenuity. For years I have been passively looking for one to buy, and earlier this year stumbled upon a fabulous pre-WWII Olivetti MP1 model at a small antiques market in Florence, Italy. The MP1 was introduced by Olivetti in 1932 as the company’s first portable model. Because of its rarity and excellent condition the seller wanted 350 euros for it. I decided not to buy it, but the elegant machine stayed on my mind. Then just weeks later there was another, much larger antiques market in Florence where a rather scruffy but kindly gentleman offered a very dusty but perfectly preserved and operational Olivetti Studio 42 model for sale – for a mere 25 euros!

Olivetti introduced the Studio 42 model just three years after the MP1, in 1935, as a semi-portable model. The Studio 42 is slightly more robust than the MP1, but is still fairly compact with an open keyboard layout with classic round keys. The design is very functional and highly elegant – from the curved typewriter arms to the beautiful chromed letters OLIVETTI. The mechanics were developed by engineer Ottavio Luzzati while architects Figini & Pollini and Bauhaus-designer Xanti Schawinsky were responsible for the overall design.

Olivetti Studio 42 with German keyboard

Olivetti Studio 42 with German keyboard

The Olivetti Studio 42 was produced with different keyboard configurations for various countries around the world from 1935 up until the early 1950s. It was even favoured in the
Vatican as the personal machine for Pope Pius XII. Today an Olivetti Studio 42 can be found in the permanent collection of the Triennale Design Museum in Milan. My dusty machine, which probably sat unused in a shed somewhere for years, came with the original case with chromed lock and leather handle. The typewriter can be secured into the case to carry it around – although because of its weight this was not an easy task to carry it across Florence back to my apartment. Now all it needs is a thorough cleaning and a new 3-color (black-red-green) ribbon and it’s as good as new.

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8 Responses to Olivetti Studio 42 | “macchina per scrivere”

  1. Paulo Andrade says:

    I would like to ask you which sources have you used to confirm the historical data
    concerned, such as the year of the original design, concept, as well as the international production between the 1935 and the early 1950s. I am working for a memorial/museum in brazil, and we have one olivetti studio 42 with portuguese keyboard config. and such information is extremely important for file filling, data acquisition, etc. though we must rely solely on academical sources and such.
    Many thanks in advance

  2. anakronismo says:

    Dear Paulo Andrade, many thanks for your message, My information was taken from online sources I could find, such as especially: http://www.typewriters.ch/collection/olivetti_studio_42.html What kind of museum do your work for? Is there a website available? Thank you!

  3. spiderwebz says:

    Hi Anakronismo! Do you know when your Studio 42 was manufactured? What’s your serial number? And… do you still have it?

  4. Susa says:

    Hey Anakronismo, I’m also in love with old typewriters since a few months, altough I’m the Atari-Generation ; ) After gazing at lots of old typewriter in the internet, I was always most impressed by the Studio 42. For me it’s the most beautiful typewriter. And finally (was quite hard) I found one in good conditions in Germany. It’s also a black glossy one. My Serial-Nr. is 517566 and I think cause of yours and the one at typewriters.ch that ours are build about 1940. The ones with the dull coating are much more common and I think they were build after the short “glossy period”.

  5. huttondavid says:

    Hi there, I just bought an Olivetti Studio 42 on eBay. I’m quite familiar on the functions of a typewriter however I’m having trouble unlocking the keys, the key bar won’t hit the ribbon to create a print on the paper. Any suggestions?

    • anakronismo says:

      Hi, thanks for your comment. Congratulations on purchasing an Olivetti Studio 42! It’s difficult to say just like that what could be the problem. Is there nothing jamming the key bars?

  6. Paulo Novaes says:

    Just to tell you that I have just got an Studio 42 that belonged to my father. Matrix number 513946 with Brazilian keyboard. That means QWERTY and some specials like “Rs” key for the currency at the time, the “Real” (what happens to be again the currency in Brazil). Based on the matrix number, I presume my father acquired it in the early forties. The machine is very well preserved, with the original case in wood covered with a leather-like tissue in black (as the machine).
    Paulo

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